What network is Mint Mobile on?

What network is Mint Mobile on? Couple look at cell phone while sat on sofa together
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to know what network is Mint Mobile on, you're likely considering signing up for its service. Since its inception in 2015, Mint Mobile has been disrupting the telecoms industry in the USA by offering customers an alternative to their usual SIM and data plans, with its three, six or 12 month prepayment plans. 

Setting up a whole new network of cellphone towers would cost a monumental amount of money, so Mint Mobile uses the already established infrastructure of the T-Mobile network. This gives consumers a budget-friendly option that makes use of an already reliable network. You’ll also have access to the super fast 5G speeds for no extra cost, something that many of Mint Mobile’s competitors charge extra for. These great features make it number one in our best cell phone providers buying guide. 

However, one drawback for Mint Mobile customers is that users may occasionally experience de-prioritization, with the network giving higher paying T-Mobile customers first priority in busy periods or congested areas.

What network is Mint Mobile on?

Mint Mobile is what’s called a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, also known as an MVNO for short. This essentially means that Mint Mobile uses another mobile company’s infrastructure and cellular towers.

In Mint Mobile's case it uses T-Mobile’s infrastructure to provide its coverage, though we’ll take a closer look at which mobile handsets will work with a Mint Mobile SIM and what sort of coverage you can expect depending on where you live later on. Mint Mobile is a tempting option as its prepayment plans can be more cost-effective than a rolling contract with T-Mobile.

However, Mint Mobile customers do have to make a compromise to benefit from the cheaper rates. While Mint Mobile customers benefit from the prepaid plans, they can also experience de-prioritization. In a nutshell, this means during busy periods or crowded areas Mint Mobile users may experience slower speeds with native (and higher paying) T-Mobile customers taking the priority.

What coverage does Mint Mobile have?

Mint Mobile piggybacks off the already-established T-Mobile network, giving customers the same level of service and connectivity as native T-Mobile customers (except when, as previously mentioned, busy periods or crowded areas force de-prioritization).

(Image credit: Mint Mobile)

To get a rough idea of what your connection is likely to be like when using a Mint Mobile SIM, you can use the handy coverage map above to see where the signal will be strongest. T-Mobile has most of the major towns and cities covered, particularly around the east and south coast, though signal gets a but more patchy when moving towards Nebraska and the west coast. 

If you’re in any doubt you can buy a starter kit for $5, which comes with 100MB of LTE data, 100 text messages and 60 minutes of talk time so you can find out how good the connection is for you before committing to 3, 6 or 12 month prepaid plan. If you do go on to purchase one of Mint’s plans, your $5 will then be refunded.

Is your handset compatible with Mint Mobile?

To use a Mint Mobile SIM card you’ll need to have either a T-Mobile or an unlocked phone. However, if your phone is currently tied to a different provider don’t worry too much, as getting a phone unlocked is a relatively straightforward and inexpensive process in most phone shops.

Your phone will also need to have 5G capabilities to make the most of T-Mobile’s super fast 5G network and your phone needs to be GSM-based. Fortunately, many unlocked phones are typically the GSM type rather than the CDMA-based networks such as Verizon. It's worth noting that while some of the latest smartphones can run on both technology, many are incompatible with each other.

If you have your phone’s unique IMEI code to hand (usually found within the settings menu or on the original box packaging) you can use Mint Mobile's checker to find out if your handset is compatible before you part with any cash.

Dan Mold

Dan is Technique Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine magazine. With over a decade writing about all things tech he’s written for a variety of publications before joining Future in April 2019 in that time working across Top Ten Reviews, Digital Camera World, PhotoPlus, NPhoto, Digital Camera and Digital Photographer.